Adapted by Richard Condon from his own novel and directed by John Huston (The Maltese Falcon, Fat City) Prizzi’s Honor stars Jack Nicholson (Terms of Endearment, As Good As It Gets) as Charley a hitman for the Prizzi’s, a powerful New York mob family. While the morality of his job is of little concern, when his duties to his crime family and his wife conflict, Charley finds himself at a crossroads. Should he choose love or honor?
While not biologically related, Charley is a favorite son of the Prizzi’s, and their frail, but fiercely principled boss Don Corrado (William Hickey). The family feels indebted to Charley because the Don’s granddaughter Maerose (Anjelica Huston, who won an Oscar for her performance) slept around while she was attached to Charley—she’s been cast out of the fold, and Charley’s become a hero of sorts. While attending a family wedding, he spots a woman (Kathleen Turner, Serial Mom) in the “cheap seats” whom he tries to make time with during the reception—but she disappears quickly afterward, leaving Charley desperate to learn who she is. He finally meets up with the mystery woman—Irene Walker, a tax consultant. Later, Partanna learns from his father Angelo (John Randolph) that Irene is a contract killer, in the same business as Charley. Following his heart instead of his head, Partanna weds Irene.
With furrowed brow, and a look of vague puzzlement, Jack Nicholson sheds his oft cool image. While Charlie is an expert at his profession, women baffle him. That’s a stretch for Jack! Irene is a fatale, but in a strange way, authentic. Her lies are just what Charlie wants, and needs to hear. It’s even possible that in her own twisted way, Irene does feel love for him.
Turner, like Nicholson, shines brightest when he has little to do. In her case, Turner can look seductive while doing everyday tasks—sitting at her makeup table or an outdoor café. She’s always been a good sport, and Prizzi’s Honor, with its gun-toting, cash-stealing shenanigans, followed right on the heels of her Romancing the Stone escapades in the great outdoors. Both leads are likable, and receive support from the Oscar-nominated Hickey, who delivers a memorably giddy, over-the-top performance. Anjelica Huston gives the same kind of self-consciously “ethnic” and unpredictably effective performance as her than boyfriend Nicholson does. In truth, Huston’s performance is merely adequate, and hardly Oscar worthy. However, considering her long career of fine performances that followed without notice, it all evened out.
While Prizzi’s Honor can’t be considered among John Huston’s greatest work, it’s a competent, colorful film, and well worth a look.
Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, Kino Lorber’s 1080p transfer is mastered from the best possible elements. The film has a rather brown, muddy look to it. Having seen the film during its original theatrical release, I believe this was the look Huston, and cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak were trying to achieve. That aside, the level of detail is above average, and the image is clean.
The 2.0 DTS-HD MA mix won’t blow anyone away, but it handles the material well. It handles action beats appropriately, offering the necessary punch without overdoing it. Atmospherics are always apparent without interfering with interactions between the characters. Dialogue is clean, clear, and concise throughout.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Audio commentary by Film Historians Howard S. Berger and Nathaniel Thompson
Movie title: Prizzi's Honor (1985)
Director(s): John Huston
Actor(s): Jack Nicholson, Kathleen Turner , Robert Loggia , Anjelica Huston , William Hickey , John Randolph
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama